When was the last time you received a real handwritten letter in your real mail box from a family member or friend? I bet it would be a safe guess that it has been a fairly long time and maybe you have never received one. Sitting down and writing a friendly letter is one of those social graces that seem to have fallen by the wayside and it is causing us to become disconnected as a society. Read more…
YOU GOT MAIL: Staying in Touch with Family and Friends
I received the nicest letter in the mail, the regular mail, today from a friend of mine that lives in Australia. She is a great gal and I always love hearing from her. It was a handwritten letter filled with news about her family and her life and her spring. It is autumn here but springtime where she lives. I’ve glowed over that letter all day. It felt like a warm hug from a dear friend and that is just what it was meant to be.
For many years I have had “pen pals” from all around the world, people I have never met and yet we have become very close friends. I have family that live in other parts of the Country and a few even in other countries and it seems hard to stay connected, really in touch.
For years I’d write, literally sit down and handwrite a letter sharing news about my family, my community and myself and I would put that letter in an envelope, write out the address and mail it to my pen pal or maybe a cousin, an aunt, an old school chum, someone I cared about that lived some distance from me or far away, someone I almost never see or have never actually seen in my life but I care about them. They are my family, my friends. I don’t do that as often anymore. Neither does anyone else I know. We should. We all should but letter writing is one of the social graces that seem to have fallen by the wayside. We are too busy, our lives spread too thin and we just don’t do it.
It takes thought, caring and a bit of effort to sit down and write a “real” letter. I used to, more often than I do now, write the letter, address the envelope, affix the proper postage and walk to the mail box or post office and mail it. They were waiting for that letter and looking forward to hearing from me. I waited patiently for the reply and in a few days or so, well, you’ve heard the expression. “You got mail,” and I could hardly wait to sit down and read what they wrote to me. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to writing letters; after all there is email and it is so much faster than that old-fashioned “snail mail.”
When we sit down and actually handwrite a letter we are staying in touch in a very personal way. It shows we care enough about this other person to take the time to make this contact personal. We used personal time filled with thought and sincere caring, not just some brief note in abbreviated notehand (that is similar to shorthand which people don’t know much about today either) that has to be deciphered (H R U).
Those personal letters that once arrived in our regular mail box, delivered by the mailperson were filled with news and filled our day with sunshine because someone thought of you and cared enough to stay in touch in a personal way. They sat down and wrote you a letter. It doesn’t happen much anymore. We lead busy lives and we all have computers and we have lost the art and the social courtesy of “real” letter writing. We can type one letter, the generic kind, and mail it to everyone on our mailing list. Our relationships are becoming of the generic kind.
Today we use E-Mail or Instant messaging, Phone Texting or Voice Mail. There is nothing very personal about it and it is a clear sign of the too busy, lack of genuine caring world that we live in. We just don’t do it, write a “real” letter and you would be amazed at the number of people who really have no clue how to sit down and write, handwrite a personal letter, one that says I care and was thinking about you today.
Today about all I get in the mail, and I think it is a pretty safe guess you get the same thing, are the regular monthly bills and that constant barrage of junk mail, all that advertising, catalogs we never ordered, flyers, political yadda-yadda and cries for donations to this, that or the other things, every cause under the sun, but I seldom get a “real” letter. I turn on my computer and “You got mail” pops up; and even that has its share of junk mail. Sad, yes, it is truly sad that we have lost that social grace and skill of letter writing and the will to do it.
When was the last time you received a letter in your real mail box that looked something like this.
Thanks so much for your wonderful and newsy letter I received last Wednesday. It made my day. I was so happy to hear from you.
Oh what a beautiful and sunny day we have here today. I wish you could be here to enjoy it with me. We would have such a good time just chatting and maybe take a walk to the park and have lunch by the cascades along the river. I so often wish we didn’t live so far from each other. I often think about the good times we used to share.
Remember when we took those great walks as kids? You’d come to my house or I’d go to yours and we’d make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a jar of lemonade for each of us and we’d take those awesome walks. We had such a good time, always laughing, always seeing or finding something unique to share. Those were the days, huh. Well, maybe one of these days we can do that again. I hope so. Now wouldn’t that be a blast and a half!
I was really pleased to hear your son; Johnny has come along so well since his eye surgery. How does he like his new glasses? I can only imagine how excited he must be to see again out of that eye. Give him a hug from me.
Sad that your barn burned but I am so glad all the animals are safe and no one was hurt. Do you know yet how the fire started? I remember you saying in your last letter that it was of suspicious origin and that there had been a couple other fires in your neighborhood recently that were suspicious as well. That is so scary. Do stay safe, my friend. Let me know what you find out.
Our church ladies fellowship group had a pot luck dinner the other night. Of course I went. I wouldn’t miss it. I took my pistachio salad. The girls all seem to love it. We had a lady there, a missionary who had just spent two years in Indonesia. Oh what a beautiful country and so different from our own. She shared about her work there at the mission school working with the orphans and showed us lots of pictures. It is a great work they are doing, reaching out as they do to help others less fortunate than we are. I know you would have enjoyed being there.
My son and his family are fairly well settled in their new house, well new to them, and of course excited about owning their own home. I am so happy for them and so hope all goes well. It is not easy for young families these days.
I’m doing well or as well as can be expected for an old lady. I’m still vertical at least and trying to keep up with this changing world. My hips are bad with this miserable old arthritis but I deal with it one day at a time and so far so good. No use complaining. Complaining won’t change one thing. I’m doing okay, quite well, all things considered and I hope you are too.
How is your knee doing since you fell last month? I hope it is all healed but Jane, if not, buy yourself a cane. It is quite stylish these days you know. I have one that I use when I’m having a not so good day or I’m going to be walking a greater distance, especially on uneven ground. It is a big help and I have no desire to fall and break a hip. Mine are fragile enough as it is.
I’m still tutoring that young boy I told you about three afternoons a week. His reading is really showing signs of improvement. I’m so glad.
I’m still volunteering at the meals site a couple days a week too. I enjoy that and I get a free lunch so what is to complain. Not me. There are so many needy folks out there. I wonder what this world is coming to, so much change and not for the good I think.
Well, I suppose I should get busy around here and get my errands done but I was thinking of you so decided to sit down and drop you a note before my day gets too busy.
I need to go to the market or go hungry and you know that isn’t happening if I can help it. Need to return some books to the library, pay the phone bill and do a couple other errands. I’ll mail this while I am downtown. Monday is back to work again so I have all these things I’d like to catch up on today but I was thinking of you and wanted to take a few minutes to drop you a note to catch up.
I’m enclosing a recipe card for a creamed chicken that is a little different and really delicious. I ate two helpings, oh piggy me. I really think you will like it. One of the girls brought it to the pot luck and I snagged the recipe from her. Try it and let me know what you think. I know you said your Roy is a fussy eater but I bet even he will like this.
I have to run now.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Love and all my best to you and the family.
“I was thinking of you,” that says it all. It feels so good just to know you are thought of. Almost no one sits down and writes a letter anymore except maybe around the holidays or some special occasion and then it is usually no more than a greeting card with maybe a couple of jotted lines (wishing you a Merry Christmas. We are fine) and our scrawled signature or no news added at all, just the greeting card verse and often even the signature is pre-printed on the card. The sender didn’t care enough to even take the time to sign their own name. They are nice to receive but it doesn’t really show you care or that you were really thinking about them when you addressed the envelope and mailed it. Today that isn’t even always done by hand. You sit down at the computer and print out your mailing list on sticky labels. It is a peel and stick way of connecting and it is not a very acceptable way to show you care. It is thoughtless.
More often than not you buy a box of just alike greeting cards and send the same card to everyone on your list in what seems more like an obligation, that holiday tradition you haven’t let go of than really thinking about the person you are sending it to and choosing that special card and writing a caring note along with it. It’s the thought that counts though, right? Maybe, but thoughtlessness speaks volumes.
Email, texting and the like are great for business or for sending quick messages to someone within your social circle or club organizations. They get the job done and much more quickly than using regular mail but they lack that personal touch, the love, the caring, and the thoughtfulness that is so important in each of our lives and we are becoming more and more disconnected as a people.
We need that personal touch. It is what distinguishes us from a bunch of robots or machines. It is what makes us human and puts quality in our life rather than just so much quantity. We need that personal contact even when we can’t physically be there and a handwritten letter, something you can hold, feel, and with the words directed to you, brings that person close to you. You know they cared enough to want to take the time, thought enough about your relationship to sit down and write a letter. “You got mail;” and it put a smile on your face all day long, now didn’t it?